09 June 2016 Volume :4 Issue :26

Research into Western and Traditional Health Care Practice

Research into Western and Traditional Health Care Practice
Dr Mosa Moshabela with Dr Bernhard Gaede.

UKZN’s Rural Health HoD, Dr Mosa Moshabela, conducted a scoping review on the need and challenges of finding common ground between western and traditional health care practice in South Africa.

Moshabela’s study - titled: “Bridging the Gap Between Biomedical and Traditional Health Care Practitioners in South Africa: The Elephant in the Room” – was completed in collaboration with colleagues, Ms Thembelihle Zuma and Dr Bernhard Gaede.

Moshabela spoke about the need, value and challenges of finding common ground between the type of health care practised by doctors and nurses who work in clinics and hospitals, and the type of health care practised by traditional healers or traditional health practitioners (iZangomaiNyanga and aBaThandazi).

The review was based on all research done on the topic emphasising the past 10 years in South Africa. ‘It is now published in the South African Health Review 2016, recently launched at the Health Systems Trust Conference in May.

‘The study summarises the most current evidence on how to bridge the gap between biomedical and traditional health care systems in South Africa,’ said Moshabela.

‘We gathered peer-reviewed literature, unpublished grey literature, policy documents and media reports using a scoping study methodology. The review presents a synthesis of evidence emerging from these sources.’

Biomedical system of health care relates to the work of modern doctors and nurses - those who are trained in medical schools and colleges of health sciences. These are people who are trained according to a Western-based model of health care for diagnosis and treatment of diseases. This system of care puts emphasis on the biological aspects of diseases, and germs found in the body and environment responsible for causing diseases.

Moshabela and his team conducted the study in response to the firm steps now being taken by the Department of Health to institutionalise traditional health practitioners (THPs) in South Africa, as mandated by the Traditional Health Practitioners Act of 2007.

‘We sought to provide a revised synthesis of the research conducted in South Africa on THPs, and assess developments made to date with regards to efforts to bring THPs closer to the formal health care system,’ said Moshabela.

According to Moshabela, the study will benefit those who conduct social science, humanities and health services research as well as practitioners of biomedical, allopathic, conventional, western or modern medicine.

The study calls for mutual understanding between biomedical and traditional health care systems, and specifies a number of recommendations such as the inclusion of traditional and religious healing practices within the curricula for training of students in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and other health sciences.

Nombuso Dlamini

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